PROSSER -- The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center is about 17 months and $900,000 away from being able to open the long-awaited Prosser interpretive center that will tell the story of the state's wine industry.
The nonprofit's board told Port of Benton commissioners it plans to ask for support from the wine and agricultural industry to fill the hole in capital and operational revenue Monday.
The port is working with the center's board, including helping secure grants for the $4 million wine and culinary center expected to open on port property in fall 2013.
There will be a brand-neutral wine-tasting bar, a retail area featuring regional foods and products, an auditorium, classroom space, a conference room, a demonstration kitchen, demonstration gardens and an outdoor patio.
"We are designing a building for a visitation experience," said Bob Stevens, president of the nonprofit's board.
But port Commissioner Bob Larson said they need to make sure the revenue exists to cover the cost of making visits worthwhile experiences.
Once board members have a design for the 15,000-square-foot building, Stevens said they will make the next push in their capital campaign to get the last $900,000 needed to have the building ready to open.
The board has already raised enough for the building to be built and is working with ALSC Architects of Spokane on a design now.
The remaining $900,000 includes kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, and the exhibits and displays about Washington wine, Walter Clore and agriculture, Stevens said.
Clore, who died in 2003, worked at the Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center and showed that wine grapes would be a viable crop in the Columbia Valley.
Stevens, who retired as director of Washington State University's Irrigated Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Prosser, said they plan to ask wineries and the agricultural commissions to help with the remainder of the money needed for the center.
Grant consultant Sue Jetter said the group also may be able to get grants for some of the educational displays, especially those that deal with history.
Those displays will need to be started this fall, about a year before the center is expected to open, Stevens said.
The nonprofit already has raised about $530,000 for construction, and has about $368,000 pledged for 2013 through 2016.
The $900,000 still to be raised is in addition to the $898,000 already received or committed for the project.
A $2 million federal Economic Development Administration grant and $1.4 million from the state allocation will help pay for building the interpretive center.
After the center is complete, the nonprofit's board will manage the center under an agreement with the Port of Benton, which will own the center. The nonprofit will fund operations.
Stevens said they expect it will take three years of operation before the wine and culinary center will be bringing in enough revenue to cover expenses.
They expect about 25,000 visitors in 2014, the center's first full year of being open.
The estimated operating budget for 2014 is about $643,000, with a loss of about $68,000 expected, according to the nonprofit's documents. That is expected to turn around in 2016 with a gain of about $19,000.
Fundraising is expected to remain about 15 percent of the nonprofit's operating budget.
Selling beer, liquor and wine will be one of the center's largest single sources of revenue. Stevens said groups who rent the facility will have to buy their beer, wine and liquor from the nonprofit. Or at some events, wineries will pay a corkage fee per bottle.
They are working on the liquor license application, he said.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org